All of us in the North Carolina soccer family like to relate stories about how our association with the game began. For some, it all started when our kids did – and we were
soon hooked. There are others, however, who can trace first experiences back to a place and surface that might be termed “humble beginnings.” For them, it wasn’t about grass fields and high-class equipment, nor scheduled games and designer jerseys. Instead, they made things up on the fly, kicking whatever they found for a ball into whatever passed for a goal. The street was in the game.
As the son of missionaries in Iran, Hall Of Fame honoree Brien Braswell remembers it that way. He found an early love for the game, nurtured by the simple experience on the Tehran playgrounds. And he would take all of that with him when his family relocated to the United States in the mid-1970’s, settling in the town of Wake Forest, N.C. There he joined the Capital Area Soccer League and began to hone his soccer skills with the 1964 Raleigh Rockets.
High school years would see Brien start with Wake Forest-Rolesville. He later transferred to Raleigh Ravenscroft where, in the fall of 1982, he was part of a state championship team under Coach Ed Yohman. This was good enough for him to gain All-State and NSCAA All-South recognition and the chance to attend and play for NAIA representative Guilford College (1983-87). But his career was cut short by a severe leg injury, and he turned to coaching.
Braswell’s record in 25 years (and counting) at Jamestown Ragsdale is a significant part of why he is being honored. In just his third season, the 1991 boys team won the first of his three state titles (the others came in 1993 and 1995). The girls program wasn’t far behind, as the Tigers captured the very first NCHSAA 1A/2A/3A Championship in 1994, led by the talented sisters Melissa and Siri Mullinix, the latter a HOF inductee in 2010. Other girls’ titles would come in 1996, 1999 and 2005.
It is also worth noting that Coach Braswell is the only soccer coach in NCHSAA history to twice win boys and girls championships in the same academic year (93-94 and 95-96).
Individual honors include his being named NCSAA Boys COY in 1993 and Girls COY in 2005 and NSCAA Division II South Region COY in 2005. He also coached the West All-Star Girls team in 1997 and was a co-coach in the Clash of the Carolinas in Charleston this past summer.
Coach Braswell often ends his soccer correspondence with this quotation from Benjamin Franklin:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Somewhere in the world, on field or street, perhaps far away, perhaps next door,
a young person is playing soccer with this creed as his guide. May he be so fortunate as to have someone like Coach Brien Braswell, 2014 NC Soccer Hall Of Fame inductee, to show the way.